Gauteng must investigate and review Putco and other bus subsidy contracts

Dr Neil Campbell MPL

Spokesperson on Roads and Transport

On-going unhappiness with government subsidised commuter bus services in Gauteng indicates the need to investigate and review contracts with companies like Putco.

The Gauteng Roads and Transport Department has allocated more than R1.7 billion in public money for subsidised bus services, of which Putco gets the lion share.

One of the major problems with the subsidised bus companies is lack of an in-depth investigation by the Department into the efficacy of the companies or the wisdom of subsidising certain routes for a very long time. Contracts are renewed on a short-term basis despite complaints being received by the Department.

The Portfolio Committee on Roads and Transport convened a session where all concerned parties could voice their discontent and many similar stories such as those in the Sowetan were reported. These formed part of a report back to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature which required the Department to investigate and report back to the committee. This report back has never materialised.

One must also appreciate that a large company like Putco has a substantial investment in Public Transport with almost 2 000 busses in their fleet. The short–term renewal of contracts does not fill the company with faith to expand their fleet, which has in fact decreased in size. I have visited their training facility which really tries to put out quality drivers.

It is high time that the entire Gauteng bus subsidy programme is investigated and modified with long term contracts which include performance monitoring and penalties signed with operators. Currently the monitoring is out sourced and not particularly effective.